The everyday blog of Richard Bartle.

1:24pm on Sunday, 6th March, 2005:

Street Sign Punctuation


The signs for the street I live in read "QUEENS ROAD". Actually, its name is Queen's Road, which one of the signs did suggest 10 years ago, but it's been replaced now. I know the name is Queen's Road because that's what it says on the land registry maps that I have, but the apostrophe has been disappeared by Colchester Borough Council. The Royal Mail removes the apostrophe, too. It even vanishes occasionally from the name of the pub at the end of the road, the Queen's Head.

This can lead to some oddities. The A137 through Lawford goes up Cox's Hill, but the road sign reads "COXS HILL". What kind of nonsense is that? It doesn't parse in English: it should either be Coxes Hill or Cox's Hill, it can't be Coxs Hill. Yet that's what the sign says.

It's not always the fault of modern-day councils, of course. In Colchester, there is a D'Arcy Heights abutting Darcy Road. I really must pop along there and see what the sign for D'Arcy Heights looks like.

What's the reason for this? What is there to be gained by removing the apostrophe from street names? Does it save on ink? Is it for some obscure computer database reason? Why do it?

There are no streets in Colchester with Irish names like O'Shea or O'Leary, which is perhaps just as well.

If ever I get to name a street in the town, I'm going to name it after a stalwart of Essex University's Electronics Department...

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Copyright © 2005 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).